Saturday, August 13, 2011

To the Ginza Holiday at the Midwest Buddhist Temple

Click to see it larger, or find
the info at the link above
Each year our family makes our way to the annual Ginza Holiday at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Old Town. The festival ran this weekend Friday through Sunday at 435 W. Menomonee St. Cash only in years past, but they took credit cards for most things this time. There is a discount entry coupon at the link above. Maybe you missed it this year, but you can go next time!

As you may know there is a very large and vibrant Japanese American community here in Chicago. Many Japanese Americans were uprooted from their homes in other places after being imprisioned during the second world war and came here to make a new start with friends or family that had already returned. The peace and joy of the first Ginza Holiday, held 56 years ago in Old Town to great success despite fear of rejection from the white community, echos on through this celebration every year. A bike is the best way to get to this wonderful time!  Please try it if you've never gone. Your kids will love it. Check out the link to see all the neat things going on.

there are professionals and lots of young local performers
The Ginza Holiday is an anything but dry boring Japanese culture festival with many parts. Traditional Japanese performing arts,  delectable food booths,  fascinating craftsmen from Japan creating beautiful things while you watch, dharma talks, flower arranging, crafts. People often dress up in their favorite anime or traditional Japanese clothes to come to the party.
Our kids are mad for the Taiko drumming, traditional Japanese drums played loud!  Judo, Aikido and Kendo are exhibited. Beautiful folk dancers move gracefully in gorgeous costumes.  Schedules for the stage performances can be found here. Check out what is happening on stage and plan to come around what you feel like seeing together.

Food at the festival is delicious and not overpriced. It's the perfect place to stop for lunch or dinner.
Huge grills are set up side by side to make the chicken teriyaki and corn, and the kids love to watch them cooking everything. The line for teriyaki can get long but it's always friendly. Usually vegetarians have many other things to choose from. Check this year's menu here.
A favorite is the kintoki, shave ice with azuki beans.
The guys also love to browse at the different booths and see what people are selling. Some years there is a lady who brings vintage kimono and happi coats at very reasonable prices.

Bathrooms can be found easily inside the temple and though the lines can get long we find that folks tend to be kind to children in a hurry.

Getting There
A bike is the best way to get there. The Temple is in the midst of Old Town on a square that is one way and closed off on two sides. A bike lets you get very close to park and you cart away tired children afterwards more easily than a walk to the bus. Bring a long chain if you can as many of the posts will get filled. A good map of the Temple's location is here. Once off the main streets of Halstead or Lincoln the streets are usually quiet all around the area. Here are the best bus or train routes if you scroll down to the very bottom of the page.

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